The migrant crisis was also an opportunity to restart cooperation among the Balkan countries, said President Gjorge Ivanov in his address at the Summit 100, held as part of the Brdo-Brioni process conference in Sarajevo. MIA correspondent in Sarajevo reports that President Ivanov was also strongly critical of the failure of NATO and the European Union to advance integration in the region, and especially of tolerating the blockade of Macedonia’s integration by Greece.
“Macedonia is a textbook example of the failure of EU and NATO, a textbook example of how NATO or EU should not treat a candidate country. We’ve become collectors. We have collected 17 completed NATO membership action plans, a Guinness world records in this field. No other country, no other army, have been tested more times than Macedonia. We have seven recommendations to open EU accession talks a no movement. We are stuck in one place only because fate decided that we have a neighbor which all of Europe, the entire world, can’t find a way to handle. And yet they ask us to handle them, to find a solution to something that is part of our identity, our uniqueness, they ask us to change our name, identity…,” President Ivanov said.
Speaking at the business forum, that accompanies the Brdo-Brioni conference, Ivanov said that it is not true that poor politics can stop business, citing the extensive commercial ties Macedonia has with Greece. “We have over 200 Greek owned companies in Macedonia and 400 mixed ownership ones. Macedonian tourists leave a billion EUR in Greece each year, which is the revenue of the top six Greek companies. We have excellent ties with the Greek business community. But, the establishment of this country seems stuck in the 20th century, and keep talking about reasons to fear Macedonia,” President Ivanov said.
Regarding the migrant crisis, he said that it was a peculiar situation to have Macedonia asked to defend the European Union from a European Union member state, when earlier this year it closed its border with Greece to stop the flow of migrants. “A million people crossed through our country and we had to solve the problem alone, all by our selves. While Brussels was thinking what course of action to undertake, we declared a crisis situation, dispatched the army at the border and regulated the flow. The crisis was a chance to cooperate with all the countries along the Balkan route. It was a positive example on how such situations should be handled in the future,” Ivanov said.
The Brdo-Brioni conference brings together the Presidents of Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia, Slovenia and, in this case, Italy. Macedonia is the host of the summit in 2017. At the business forum, Macedonia was represented by companies such as Alkaloid, Tikves, and Stopanska Bank Bitola, as well as by a Government level minister who works on facilitating foreign investment.